Harrogate and Knaresborough MP has given his backing to Councillors on the Harrogate Area Committee of North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) calling for a new investigation in to the controversial incinerator project at Allerton Park on the edge of his Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency.
The incinerator is proposed by NYCC to deal with the County’s waste but has been dogged by controversy and delays.
When the proposal was brought before Councillors originally a working party was set up to look at the value for money of the proposal. It concluded that the project did provide value for money but said that if certain assumptions turned out to be inaccurate then the situation could change.
Those assumptions were:-
- Landfill tax (a charge levied by government for every tonne of waste put in landfill) would increase by a certain amount each year.
- The Private Finance Initiative (PGI) funding from Government would remain in place
- The project would begin in reasonable time as each year’s delay would cost £50m.
Now, four years after the report was submitted councillors have called for a new group to examine the situation again. And the group has won the backing of local MP, Andrew Jones.
Mr Jones commented: PFI funding has gone, the landfill tax has not increased at anything like the rate predicted and the project is still not ready to begin. It is clear that the financial backdrop to this project is now completely changed on what it was several years ago.
Given this, it seems sense that a working party should be set up to examine this new situation – this is no different to what happened previously and would provide North Yorkshire County Council’s Cabinet with valuable input from councillors who are not quite so close to this matter as the Cabinet are.
I also have a concern that the projected capacity of the incinerator is now far too large for the amount of landfill waste being generated since the proposal originally came forward.
This is because more people are recycling than ever before largely due to the introduction of the new recycling services in the Harrogate district. The incinerator needs a minimum tonnage of waste to operate. If that tonnage isn’t there then what is the point of pressing ahead with the project? This, too, is something that the working party should examine.